Donna Duggan interviews certified yoga instructor, television host and creator of the best-selling Yoga for Surfers DVD series, Peggy Hall, on prenatal yoga.
Why do you recommend yoga for pregnancy?
I like to say that prenatal yoga benefits mind, body and baby. Research shows that moderate-intensity exercise like yoga helps expecting mums decrease stress, anxiety and depression, reduce aches and pains (especially back-ache and leg swelling) improve breathing, increase fitness and flexibility, and develop a deeper emotional connection to the growing baby. Benefits for the baby include increased oxygen and blood flow, and lowered risk of being born overweight or requiring a cesarean delivery.
If you haven’t practiced yoga before, is it ok to start during pregnancy?
Absolutely – if you follow a safe and effective prenatal course from a qualified instructor. Another option is to practice at home with a reputable book or DVD, but always get approval from your doctor before beginning any exercise, including prenatal yoga. Hot Yoga is not recommended during pregnancy as it raises the core temperature of the fetus beyond normal range.
What are some of the poses you should avoid during pregnancy?
No twists across the abdomen, and no sit ups, crunches or other vigorous abdominal exercises. Plank Pose is fine. No complete inversions like Shoulder Stand or Headstand, which can put too much pressure on the heart. Down Dog is an excellent option as a mild inversion. No lying flat on your back or on your belly.
How can yoga help during labour?
The physical postures can help increase flexibility in the hips, improve muscle tone in the pelvic floor and create the strength and stamina needed during delivery.
What is yogic breathing and how can it assist during pregnancy?
Slow, deep, conscious breathing through the nose is a classical type of yoga breathing and can promote a sense of awareness, calm, confidence and courage. Avoid forceful breathing exercises like the short, explosive “breath of fire” or breath retention exercises, which can disrupt oxygen and blood flow to the foetus.
If you have never meditated before, what’s the best way to start?
Simply close your eyes and breathe slowly and consciously. As you inhale, breathe in feelings of energy, space and freedom; as you breathe out, feel calm, open and free. Continue for a few minutes, relaxing as much as possible. Or follow along with my Book of Blessings guided meditation and you’ll see how easy and effortless it is to connect to your breath, your body, and the precious life growing inside you.
Known as “America’s Ultimate Wellness Expert,” Peggy Hall is a certified yoga instructor, radio personality, television host and creator of the best-selling Yoga for Surfers DVD series (www.yogaforsurfers.com) and the recently released Baby on Board Pre-Natal Yoga DVD. Get a complete list of the “Dos and Don’ts of Doing Yoga While Pregnant” www.babyonboardyoga.com and other healthy lifestyle tips at www.peggyhall.com.